Where are the Rs 10-lakh homes?

With the lack of affordable housing, buyers were left dejected on day one of the 19th MCHI property exhibition
While there was no dearth of Mumbaikars at the 19th Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI) property exhibition yesterday, hunting for their dream homes, affordable housing options were next to invisible.

Though MCHI's advertisements clearly stated that there were houses available for Rs 10 lakh, it took hours for this reporter to find one. And when he did, it was a studio apartment located in Badlapur (East), nearly 3 km from the station.

All I want is a roof somewhere: Prospective buyers thronged the
Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry's property exhibition at MMRDA
grounds yesterday with the hopes of buying their dream homes.
Pic/Santosh Nagwekar

Left wanting
The four-day exhibition, Oct 6 - 9, organised at the MMRDA grounds, BKC, saw visitors searching for their dream homes even before it was officially inaugurated. However, most of them were left disappointed, including the ones with a budget of a few lakhs to the ones with a few crores. Iqbal Masood, a homebuyer with a budget of Rs 20 lakh, was left searching for a piece of property in Navi Mumbai. "Whatever I have seen in the exhibition seems to be overpriced. The builders have a vision, but we do not have the money that'll be enough to fit their vision," said Masood.

Like Masood, even the Dhoots, with an enviable budget of Rs 2.5 crore, couldn't find a flat of their choice in Goregaon and were left high and dry. "We are looking for a 3-BHK flat in Goregaon, but things are not easy. We hoped that with the global downturn, prices would be low, but it doesn't seem so," said Smita Dhoot.

Ground reality
While experts claimed that the number of visitors at the exhibition indicated the will to invest, the lack of affordable housing options on offer turned out to be a dampener.

During the inauguration, developers claimed that the media was speculating too much and things weren't as bad as they were being portrayed. However, Rohini Upasini, one of the chief guests and general manager of SBI, said, "There is a decline in the demand for home loans from the common man." While Paras Gundecha, president of MCHI said, "This festive season we are hoping that sales take place."

Discounts galore
Though builders officially claimed that the market was doing well, 90 per cent of them were seen offering major discounts at the exhibition.

While Nirmal Lifestyle has reduced the price at one of its suburban projects by Rs 2 lakh, Lodha is offering discounts up to Rs 5 lakh, depending on the project. Besides, Sunteck Realty was seen offering flats at reduced price of Rs 6,750 per square foot, against the existing rate of nearly Rs 7,200 per square foot, in Airoli.

Similarly, all the major players are offering some or other discounts to lure buyers.

90 days to pass proposals
Sachin Ahir, state housing minister, who was one of the chief guests at the event, said, "We are coming up with a 90-day proposal, that presented before the BMC. According this proposal, the BMC would either have to pass or reject a housing proposal within a span of 90 days." Experts claim that this is the Gujarat formula, wherein any proposal that is put forth before the state government for approval has to be passed within a stipulated time span. And in case of rejection, the officer has to provide valid reasons for the proposal's rejection.

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